Plotting to ruin Peter Slipper's career - court hears of 'conspiracy' to hurt Speaker
THE male adviser suing Peter Slipper for sexual harassment has been accused of conspiring with political enemies to hurt the parliamentary Speaker.
In a three-hour court hearing, which at times involved testy exchanges between James Ashby's barrister Michael Lee SC and Federal Court judge Steven Rares, orders were made to compel potential witnesses to hand over any evidence of the alleged conspiracy.
Those subpoenaed include former Howard government minister Mal Brough, Mr Ashby's media spokesman Anthony McClellan, Slipper staffer Karen Doane and The Daily Telegraph journalist Steve Lewis - who broke the story of the lawsuit against the Speaker.
Mr Slipper's barrister David Chin claimed Mr Ashby's case was aimed at benefiting Mr Slipper's opponents while counsel for the Commonwealth Julian Burnside QC told the court Mr Ashby's case had been "brought to damage Mr Slipper and help his opponents".
Mr Burnside said Mr Ashby's phone records showed he and Ms Doane worked together to undermine their boss and "leaked" politically sensitive material to Mr Lewis and Mr Slipper's political opponents, including Mr Brough.
Mr Lee cited Mr Ashby's statement when filing his lawsuit: "I'm not motivated by political considerations or financial considerations. My motive was to ensure conduct toward me stopped".
Mr Ashby and Ms Doane have been on paid leave since the scandal erupted in April.
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